The terms social media and social networking have been tossed around for quite some time now, but businesses are struggling with how to implement these strategies in their budgets. How much is too much, how much is too little? There are many factors on how to plan a budget, and the same goes for social media.
A study done by Econsultancy and bigmouthmedia has found that of the, “companies (86%) [they] surveyed plan to spend more money on social media in 2010, and a further 13% are planning to keep the same level of budget.” With that being said, it seems the biggest struggle for companies is not that they don’t want to spend the money, but they don’t know what to spend it on.
The good news is many social media outlets are free. Yes, there are programs you can purchase to help manage your accounts and are necessary for some social networking efforts, but for the most part it’s free to sign up on these sites.
The main cost is how much time you are going to dedicate to your social media campaign. Someone has to put into action your ideas, and they most likely aren’t going to work for free. When writing up your budget make sure you take into account the time your employee(s) are going to be dedicating to this new project.
You also need to take into account if you need to hire someone to run your social media efforts. With the social media industry becoming more popular, there are many people out there claiming to be social media gurus. There are plenty of quality people in the industry who know what they are doing, but make sure you are getting someone with enough background in social media that makes you comfortable.
Once you have set up who and how much time will be spent on social media, the next step is to decide how you are going to monitor everything. These analytical tools come in all shapes and sizes and the cost varies from application to application—and in some circumstances are free.
If you are just getting your feet wet, it is a good idea to start small and then grow. See how effective your efforts are before going full blast. You need to know where your target audience is engaging. If your customers are mostly on Twitter and you aren’t there how will they get your message? Play around with the different social networking sites and figure out which sites are best for your company.
Time will tell
Once you have done some research and dabbled in the different social networking you should be able to get a feel of what tactics work for your company and what don’t. After you get a better feeling for where your key audience is participating with you, you can then focus your efforts and better know how to manage your time and money.